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Animal rights group closes Ringling Bros. Circus for good

Last Chance for Animals is taking some responsibility for shutting down Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for good.
Photo credit:
NPR

After almost 150 years The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has caved to the pressures of animal rights organizations and will cease any further shows after May 2017.

Last Chance for Animals (LCA) has been involved with undercover investigations into the circus giant's CEO, Kenneth Feld, accusing him of severe animal cruelty.

To counter their research, Feld hired his own investigator, Steve Kendall, who spied on the animal rights organization and its President & Founder Chris DeRose for years.

In an unexpected turn of events Kendall switched sides and began to support the LCA after discovering the way the circus had been training their animals

“Anyone that gets in Kenneth Feld’s way, he investigated,” said Kendall in a release. “Chris DeRose was a threat, one of the biggest. Kenneth singled out individuals that targeted the shows and looked for other ways to combat them, trying to shut down those people and organizations (LCA, PETA) economically.”

Before he made the switch, Kendall’s eight-year probe into LCA gathered information about its leaders and staff,  ultimately siding with them. 

Meanwhile LCA had its own private investigator, Bryan Monell, delving into the practices of Ringling and exposed several “most egregious acts by trainers of circus elephants in the 15 years he worked for LCA, at serious risk to his own life.”

Some of Monell’s documented findings were:

  • Stealing infants from their mothers. An estimated 50 percent of the Asian elephants owned by Ringling were captured and torn from their families in the wild
  • Using bullhooks, ropes and electric prods to forcibly train animals to perform unnatural, ridiculous tricks out of fear and domination
  • Failing miserably to meet even minimal federal standards of care for the animals
  • Entrapping animals for up to 11 months on the road in cramped, filthy boxcars and trailers

Ringling finally announced they would discontinue their elephant shows, the last being in May of 2016.

But wanting the same freedom for all animals involved with the show, LCA pressed further until finally the circus giant announced they would be folding, with a final performance scheduled for May 2017.

LCA put out the following statement after the announcement:

“On behalf of the animals, we are ecstatic about this victory. Ringling fought to continue the circus despite continuous exposure of animal cruelty and public outcry. It’s been a long, grueling battle, but LCA always knew that we would prevail and make a difference.”